End waste, weed the wastrels (I)

Nigerians all over the world often cuddle around dinner-tables discussing Nigeria, and men and women elected or appointed to represent their interests in government. A question that frequently comes up in many homes is why many of these ambassadors-of-trust perpetrate so much waste in government? The more we deliberate on the depth and width of waste which co-mingles with the metastasis of corruption, the more we ask what really is wrong with the Black man and power?

Behaviours of public servants in Nigeria are just out of the sphere of sanity. Reasons for this must be one of two things. They either don’t care about their country’s economic success; or they are just possessed by the unholy spirit of intentional derangement. As a bird builds its nest to lay its head in, we have architected a culture of waste in which public officials thrive and survive. The glimpse of our economy is grim. Nigeria is at the edge of the cliff overlooking a Grand Canyon gully and Gehenna of economic tribulation if waste continues without a hinder; and wastrels operate without weeding them.

Last week, Bola Tinubu was inaugurated as the 16th President of Nigeria. The towering take-away from his speech was “Fuel subsidy is gone.” For the lousy and lazy criminal beneficiaries of what once appeared like an endless scam on a nation; it was a torment. But for over 90 percent of Nigerians across party lines and ethnic divides, it was a succouring outpouring of dews from heaven.

The Nigeria Labour Congress; an umbrella group with membership from across all ethnic and religious group; and also, a self-declared mobilisation platoon of the opposition Labour Party announced that it was calling Nigerian workers to down tools to cripple a move that is set to cripple what has economically crippled Nigeria for decades. It was obvious that the leadership of the NLC in lockstep with its enraged and bitter card-carrying politicians, who lost out in the last election, was fighting a political fight, not a commonsensical welfare struggle for its members. Thank God for wiser state chapters of the group that announced they would not be part of the political shenanigans. After a dialogue with representatives of the Federal Government, NLC shamelessly buckled. It called off the nationwide strike that was destined to fail and flop. The group saved its face, at least for now.

The President had his finger on the button.  A leader must not be afraid to take risks. In life you’ve got to BURN some bridges and CROSS some. Which one do you BURN or CROSS may be a tough decision. When you arrive at an intersection; you must swing one way. The decision may be tough, but you must make it. It always takes BOLD MOVES to break OLD killing habits. Tinubu is called the “LION OF BOURDILLON,” Now; we see why. Only a LION can roar against mafioso entrenched criminal subsidy for subsidy and its clamourers surrender pro bono publico.

Subsidising fuel in Nigeria is subsidising evil. It is aiding the lifestyles of opulent men. Between 2006 and 2011; a whooping sum of N3.7tn was spent on subsidy. In 2011 alone; sum of N1.7tn was spent- this was 30 per cent of government expenditure. Who benefits more from subsidy? Rich people who use fuel more. They consume 97 per cent of petrol. Poorest 40 per cent consume only three per cent. Illegal bunkering criminals who divert crude to neighbouring countries benefited. Fuel subsidy by the government is fake life and a waste.  Now that it is gone, the government should provide a cushion for the poor who consume only three per cent of crude. Oil marketers are standing with the President on subsidy. They’re donating 50 to 100 50-seater mass transit buses costing a N100m each and N10bn cumulatively, to cushion the effect of the removal within the next 30 days. Something good is about to happen in Nigeria. Waste of government resources emanates from warped mindsets. And warped mindsets and corruption are inseparable Siamese twins. The removal of fuel subsidy, however, provides only a tiny dent on the titanic and bludgeoning iron-balloon of waste across government businesses in Nigeria. That is why we urge President Tinubu to identify one-by-one other chutes of waste in government, shut them down, and weed the wastrels.

The cost of running democracy must be pruned down. Running the government across the board in Nigeria at the present frenzy and addictive speed is an unsustainable wild waste. The drainpipe funneling Nigeria’s hard-earned funds into multitude of bottomless pits and private pockets of politicians in cahoots with their colluding businessmen must be plugged.

An organisation with high overheads needs a high contribution margin to break even. Let’s start from our legislature. A constitutional stipulation that states Nigeria must have 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives already sets the system to go bankrupt. What are these guys doing for God’s sake? Their modus operandi is to squeeze pint-by-pint the precious blood of an already anemic Giant of Africa. With many of these human cankerworms; this milking sector of government must be recalibrated for this President to be able to carry out his agenda that requires lots of money. What is going on inside the smirched chambers is garroting corruption of the most acerbic order, and waste in its grimmest form. Nigerian lawmakers are Nigeria’s elite locusts and cankerworms. At the crack of every dawn, they legislate Nigeria into extinction without knowing it. What remains a global absurdity and a slap in the faces of the people are these lawbreakers’ salaries and allowances.

109 senators coast home a whopping sum of remuneration monthly for doing not much. They slumber off and fool around in the chamber. They pass no legislation that brings succour to the suffering masses; and many times, they are no-show for work as often as Nigerian workers do because of the rules of the house abused by not a few.

In the 2023 budget, 469 legislators, the civil servants and the two agencies under the National Assembly, will gulp N228bn as running cost in only 12 months. Senators packing their bags and heading home were each receiving N14.5m (about $20,000) monthly as running cost. Members of the House of Representatives each get N10.2m (about $13,600) monthly as running costs. There are other hidden costs that have not been revealed. There is hardship allowance which is 50 per cent of Basic salary; constituency allowance 200 per cent of basic salary; newspapers allowance 50 per cent of basic salary; and wardrobe allowance 25 per cent of his basic salary. There is also recess allowance which amounts to 10 per cent of basic salary; accommodation 200 per cent of basic salary; utilities 30 per cent of basic salary; domestic staff 70 per cent of basic salary; and entertainment 30 per cent of basic salary. Vehicle maintenance allowance is 75 per cent of basic salary. Leave allowance 10 per cent of basic salary. Severance gratuity 300 per cent of basic salary and car allowance 400 per cent of basic salary. If a lawmaker decides to hire Personal Assistants, they will earn 25 per cent of a hiring lawmaker’s basic salary. In a Cimmerian economy such as Nigeria’s, this is flat-out insensitive! How will Nigeria service its debt, grow its economy, build infrastructure, and kill hunger and poverty with wastes such as these? It is why in this week’s treatise I challenge President Tinubu to rid Nigeria of all this waste; and weed off the wastrels who are human agents and perpetrators of the wanton waste. And he has started well.

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